Jeffrey Sachs on Moral Causes to America's Fiscal Problems

Friday, October 07, 2011

Economist Jeffrey Sachs has a new book, "The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity," and the heart of it is a single argument: all of the nation’s current economic, political and productive woes share a similar root cause: that America’s financial and political leaders are failing to take the moral steps necessary to restrain a society of markets, and policies run amok, and that we need to become a "mindful society."

Director of The Earth Institute and professor of sustainable development and health policy at Columbia University, Sachs talks with us about these moral roots of America's financial crisis.


Jeffrey Sachs

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [8]

Dan from Pebble Beach, CA

We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.
Here's the TED talk -

Not that people on the right want to be bothered with the data or science. But here we have the facts.

Oct. 31 2011 01:01 PM

What "we" got ourselves into?
The "economy" pits people against each other?

The Democrat Congress and President deliberately skyrocketed spending without a budget and increased government regulation causing a deep lack of confidence in the economy. Now they call for increased taxes to pay for their recklessness causing more uncertainty with no end in sight which is now causing civil disturbances that are praised in the leftist media.

"Progressive" policies threw a wrench into to the economic machinery and we are now supposed to forget what they did and blame the machinery for breaking down and have the same people who wrecked it now unconstitutionally change our system on their terms?

Isn't that straight out of the Marxist handbook?

Oct. 07 2011 01:58 PM

I was extremely disappointed by Mr. Sachs. It was so clear that he has an agenda and deliberately not only ignored facts which ran contrary to his opinion but also misrepresented how things actually happened in order to forward his agenda. (The Japanese government was a great example of this!) He made the false argument that the USA has reduced government over these last 25+ years and that is the cause of all the ills he wanted to blame on a proper lack of government. The reality is that government has grown every year in the US despite rhetoric that suggested otherwise was the intention.

It could be reasonably argued that the real problem with the US has been the failure to achieve the cuts and efficiencies in government (and the Northern European governments do have efficient and low debt governments because they do pay for what they decide they to have provided by their governments) that were the reason behind much of the reduce government rhetoric that Mr. Sachs complained about.

It is these obvious liberally biased reports that irritate the fiscally responsible portion of the electorate that doesn't believe that using the force of government to play Robin Hood is a good idea.

Oct. 07 2011 10:45 AM

Sorry Charles, but the names Paul Ryan and Wall Street Journal together do not inspire much confidence of reading a fair and unbiased rebuttal. They are the epitome of the type of political and corporate forces that Sachs is decrying.

Oct. 07 2011 10:40 AM

It WAS working great until they adopted US banking policies and got up to their eyeballs in unregulated derivatives. The countries who did the least of that like Germany are, low and behold, the only ones left with any money.

Its not because they have lots of social services that european countries are in trouble, its because some of them did the Americqn thing and got in bed with Goldman and AIG.

Oct. 07 2011 10:38 AM

Thanks for link in prior post. Just another zealot. Even John had to push him a bit to get something other than spew.

Oct. 07 2011 09:01 AM
Sean Quaint from Dearborn, MI

Thank you for having Mr. Sachs on this morning. He is completely correct. The metaphor for our current crisis is the end of a long game of Monopoly. Someone has won all the cash and deeds on the board, and the rest of us are left to clean up. We need to ask the simple question: Where has all the money gone? The money we all seek still exists somewhere. It didn't just evaporate. We need to find that cash and put it back out in the street, so to speak. Just like Mr. Sachs said, we need to put it back into the schools, back into the infrastructure, and back into quality product development. We need also to get out government back on our side, and stop perpetuating the myth that smaller government is the answer. We need to stop hiring politicians who claim to want to dismantle the entity they were hired to work for. If I during a job interview stated that I wanted to shut down the company that I wanted employment from, I would never get that job. Anyway, back to Monopoly, they money is in the winner's vault, and we need it back out on the board before everyone decides to start playing Risk instead.

Oct. 07 2011 08:43 AM

This book review by Congressman Paul Ryan in the Wall Street Journal is an excellent rebuttal to Prof. Sachs:

Not that you'd ever hear a word of criticism aimed at Sachs on public radio. Notice how John Hockenberry didn't challenge Sachs; he simply wanted Sachs to explain what listeners ought to understand about the economy.

Basically, Jeffrey Sachs wants the U.S. to be a lot more like Europe. How's that working for the European economy?

Oct. 07 2011 08:24 AM

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